Upperclassmen Spotlight Hellgate 2023 Wrestling

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Hellgate Knights 2023 Varsity Team

Brennan Labbe, Reporter

MISSOULA- Dillon Gunlock, Aspen Murphy, and Conor Fitz look to continue their torrid pace this season, leading Hellgate Wrestling, and placing footsteps for their younger counterparts. The three phenom wrestlers have 31 combined wins. All three Knights have phenomenal chances of not only making it to, but placing at the State tournament in Billings this spring. Here’s a deeper look into each wrestler. 

145- Dillon Gunlock: In his seventh year of wrestling, the 145-pound junior hovers on strong competition and an 11-11 cumulative record. Gunlock placed seventh in the notorious Rocky Mountain Jug Beck Classic. The biggest out-of-state tournament of the year featured 30 high end A, AA, and AAA schools from the Pacific Northwest. The phenom came out with a tournament record over .500, after losing his first match of day one in a double elimination bracket. Going all six minutes for all of his matches, Gunlock (3-2) reflected on his last match of the opening day. “I remember being down with 20 seconds left in the match,” said Gunlock. “I kept wrestling, and ended up scoring two points to gain the lead.” Gunlock beat out a phenomenal competitor out of Spokane, Washington (University Prep), 3-1 on his way to three straight wins, while needing to win out to make day two. “I ended up taking my third 6-minute win in a row, and was excited and motivated to go into the second day and keep wrestling.” Gunlock looks to lead Hellgate with his focus on State and getting everyone he can on his way there. 

170- Conor Fitz: Fresh off of an injury, the 170-pound senior holds a 6-2 cumulative record. The high power competitor also finished above .500 for the Rocky Mountain. Going 3-2 in the showcase, both losses came against wrestlers who snagged podium spots. Fitz pinned his first opponent of day one in the opening two minutes of action. He lost match two to the wrestler who ended up taking second. Fitz then prepared for must-wins in his next two matches to avoid elimination. “You have to beat the best to be the best,” said Fitz. The heavily motivated senior did just that. Winning both of his next two matches in under 90 seconds by pin, Fitz made day two and the winners bracket. All of this took place in the biggest tournament of the year leading up to State. Looking to finish a shortened senior season, Fitz explained how he is motivated, and how he’s got that dawg in him. “I am fresh off an injury,” said Fitz. “I know they don’t want it like me.” Fitz is one of few who you can’t miss in the first period, or you will most likely see his competitor on his back. 

120- Aspen Murphy: Entering the fifth year of her wrestling career, Aspen Murphy is driven by her defining competitiveness. The 120-pounder is in her third year at Hellgate. With a record of 14-11 for the season so far, Murphy placed 6th at the Laprose tournament in Bozeman, going 3-3. Murphy came out strong in the first match of the tournament by pinning a wrestler out of Billings Senior. “It’s always super helpful and exciting to win your first match of a tournament,” said Murphy. “You can go into your next match with confidence.” She lost her second match to a wrestler from Helena Capital, but kept her head down and continued to fight on. Winning match three and staying in contention, Murphy lost match four – one with questionable refereeing – which sent her to a must-win match five, if she wanted to stay in the winning bracket. She came out and won match five, and got sent into a placement round to finish out the tournament. “Nothing feels better than getting your hand raised,” said Murphy. The outstanding competer finished the hard-fought tournament with a tough final loss, but nonetheless, set her up for more growth, and continued success to finish out this season strong.

These Knights have been working hard since Thanksgiving, and their work is looking to pay off. They have one more match here in Missoula before they look to finish their season strong at Divisionals and State. Catch these Knights on 1/27 at 3:30, 5:30, and 7:30 at Hellgate High School. Come support these Knights one more time, before they head off wrestling to what they have been working so hard for all winter long!